Wednesday was another relatively calm day for the stock market, although the business world had to deal with contentious news that involved several key industry leaders. Politics in Washington remained in turmoil as two business advisory councils to the White House came to an abrupt end amid controversy surrounding President Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. With earnings season drawing to a close, the market continued to look relatively directionless, but news from a few select companies led to some major moves higher. American Eagle Outfitters (AEO -0.13%), Advance Auto Parts (AAP 4.25%), and Freeport-McMoRan (FCX 0.68%) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.

American Eagle climbs on retail optimism

Shares of American Eagle Outfitters finished higher by 5%, building on enthusiasm that started yesterday in the wake of a positive analyst move from professionals at FBR Capital. Analysts upgraded shares of the teen retailer from neutral to buy, arguing that any risk from the downward pressure on brick-and-mortar mall retailers is already reflected in the stock's price. Moreover, with investors already expecting little from the company, the potential for positive surprises is greater. Today's favorable earnings news from an industry peer also created some excitement, and the prospect that retail could be hitting bottom is an attractive idea for American Eagle investors.

American Eagle ad featuring woman in summer clothing on a sunny street in a city.

Image source: American Eagle Outfitters.

Advance bounces back

Advance Auto Parts stock jumped 5%, regaining some of the ground that it lost in Tuesday's market session. The news yesterday was dominated by Advance Auto's earnings, which featured a revenue gain of just 0.3% on flat comparable-store sales and a 17% drop in adjusted earnings per share. Even worse, Advance said that it expected tough conditions to persist throughout 2017, with annual comps falling 1% to 3%. Today's gains seemed to reflect the idea that the market might have overreacted with its 20% drop yesterday. Yet even with today's recovery, Advance Auto has lost roughly 15% of its value in just the past two days.

Freeport looks shinier

Finally, shares of Freeport-McMoRan rose 6%. The copper and gold miner got bad news from its Indonesian business unit, where flash floods have led to one worker having gone missing as well as extensive property damage to a power plant associated with its mining operations there. Yet investors seemed to focus on improving commodity prices for key metals, as gold climbed and copper hit its best levels in close to three years. Even though the oil markets were weaker, hurting Freeport's energy business, the prospects for better results from the mining business are encouraging for shareholders. After lackluster performance throughout much of the year, Freeport has plenty of room to play catch-up.